Subhas Warrier
Jan 31, 2017

Opinion: Marketing to forgetful people

Ahead of elections in some parts of the country, the author explains what marketing can learn from the politicians

Opinion: Marketing to forgetful people

During the last State elections in Kerala I landed a project to develop and promote a product to the political parties. I took this up without knowing what I was getting into, but I knew there was much to learn from the political landscape of our country. There are a few ‘take outs’ from that experience that are relevant for a modern day marketer.

Understanding people marketing in real life is intriguing and demands a completely different set of skills. The intersection of the traditional direct consumer contact programme with the new age social media has broadened the scope of dialogue with its constituents.

In a mature politically ‘over-educated’ state such as Kerala, people are extremely aware and they acknowledge the good and they trash the bad, pretty much decisively. If an individual has done some good, then it will ring the electoral register and there is supposedly a lot of cash out there. Here, perception matters a lot because people forget quickly and thanks to the ‘fake news’ phenomenon everyone seems to know almost anything about everything. It all depends on the latest though. This is very much what John Philip Jones harped upon in his principles of short-term advertising strengths (STAS). So while I piloted a new age communications tool with the electoral contenders I got to see some things, up-close on how they go about their business to woo the electorate.

Best practices on local media targeting

This is best explained in how the neighbourhood MLA candidates compete amongst each other go about their business in a clinical fashion. It is a template that has been mastered over time that cannot be replicated, because in politics the rules are different. There are also some unwritten rules of placement. I will attempt to present a few of them here.

  • The 100 MT Radius Rule. Coverage Area. There is a cataloguing of candidate faces and symbols here that if you miss then you are damn ‘out of sight’.
  • The T-Point Rule - T Junction and the Turning Point Junction, both physically and metaphorically! Like most ‘mohallas’ this is the evening meeting point for the political debate. The young mostly are rounding up stories of the day. The anecdotes and stories are all about shaping perception and influencing decisions on who is going to be our next leader. These are your ‘persuasion’ points so they are there with an appropriate message.
  • The Entry and Exit point Rule. Each constituency spans extended and often non-contiguous terrains. Hence you must mark your position here.
  • The W-2-W rule. This is the art of marking your people and their households, which are mostly, unpainted wall fronts. The colour or the symbol on the wall denotes the political slant of a particular household. This is free advertising on the face of it. Can’t miss that opportunity.

This provides a sense on how it could take place in other states which are going to the polls. But every state has its unique mix. Hence to study India, it’s best to study the political campaigns and you will know what works at a very micro-local level.  

(Subhas Warrier is director, RubixKube Communications.)
Campaign India